Covid Push

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #101: Decisions

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dark clouds

I’m done two weeks from tomorrow!

My friend of over 30 years called a few days ago with the news. She had made the decision to “retire” after 35+ years from her job in outpatient healthcare at a physician’s office owned by a local hospital. I put quotation marks with retire because her decision was made out of desperation. It was not made easily. It wasn’t what she had planned.

It’s the Covid push.

I had not heard the term before, but she mentioned it as an afterthought. We’d had many conversations over the last few months about the challenges she endured at work. The powers that be prioritized her schedule to include in-person visits throughout the entire pandemic. She has been terrified. At high risk herself, she was also counseling high risk patients. One after the other…when tele-health video visits would easily have sufficed.

Let’s remember, however, that insurance companies reimburse health care providers the most for in-person patient visits. Then there’s tele-health video…and the lowest reimbursement? Telephone counseling. It’s all about the money…don’t get me started.

My friend is an excellent practitioner and educator. Caring, thorough and the ultimate professional. She is also hoping to be around for her adult daughters and grandchildren for many more years to come.

It’s just not worth it anymore. I can’t do it.

I had never heard those words from her before. But there they were. Her husband, a teacher with the same risk factors, had been teaching at a public high school. He also “retired.”

They scrambled to restructure finances and find other health care options. But for the first time in many months, I heard relief in her voice.

The decision had…finally…been made.

Lens-Artists Challenge: One Single Flower

Lens-Artists Challenge #101: One Single Flower

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: One Single Flower

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #100: Pause (...long enough to quiet the noise…)

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purple iris

I find this to be a congruous set of challenges happening in the same week. In particular, V.J.’s subtext to the topic of Pause…about quieting the noise. There has been way too much noise for me lately – on a personal level – more than I can often handle and process like I did “before.” To focus during the day. To sleep at night.

At the same time, I recognize the need for information, education – and change. All the noise urgently and justifiably vies for our collective public attention simultaneously. Ignited by fear. Anger. Not being heard. Not being properly informed.

I have no answers for any of this. I am just one single person among millions who are worried, tired and anxious. Many have more concerns than I do. Many have less.

raindrop flower

Let’s try to get out of our own heads and pause. Take time to listen and hear and read what others have to say. With open minds. Whether it be the scientists with news about the pandemic and what to do next. Or our fellow citizens protesting for justice and racial equality. Or even the politicians who will shape policy – one way or the other. Let’s reflect. Reach within for empathy. And…again…listen.

And…make a commitment to get out and vote when the time comes.

What does this have to do with One Single Flower?

A mass of flowers draws my attention briefly. After a while they blend in together. In the relative quiet of the walking path.

But the single flower…the one tiny flower among many? That’s what stops me.

yellow flower

The one all alone “out standing in its field” as if to say Look at me! I’m important too!

lone daisy

The one single flower…making itself known.

 

No Words

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #98: No Words

This week’s focus is inspired by the events unfolding in the news, but is not limited in its scope. There is much in life that leaves us speechless – both tragic and awe-inspiring. This week, think about the moments that leave you searching for words. Responses can be written, photographic, artistic, or musical.

~~~

The evening national news had just concluded. The entire broadcast consisted of live coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests happening around the country. Reporters conducted interviews with protestors, political figures and children struggling to understand what was happening.

The interviews that stood out for me the most were with African American mothers and fathers. I saw such profound fear in their eyes. Longstanding fear for their children’s safety – especially their sons – both young and grown. They voiced long held terrors…Will their sons return home for supper unharmed? Will they return after a run? Will they return at all? Or will they be targeted by a white member of the community or by the police just because they are black. Look what happened to George Floyd. And so many others – both male and female – like him.

Goodbye and be careful son…takes on a whole new urgency.

I turned off the TV and asked my husband:

What would it have been like if we had needed to worry about our son’s safety every time he left the house…because of the color of his skin? When he left to ride his bike. When we left him off to play basketball. Or baseball. When he drove the car to his friend’s house. Or to the mall to go shopping at Christmas. What if he got stopped in the car…or out in public…for any reason at all? What if?…

Because we did worry about his safety. About what we thought were the “usual” parental concerns. Accidents. Behavior. Illness. Choices.

But due to our privilege as white Americans, we didn’t – and we don’t – experience the searing ongoing daily unimaginable life and death worry about safety that African American parents have always lived with.

What would it have been like?

What would it still be like…?

My mind screeches to a halt. My eyes fill with tears.

I have no words.

waiting for bus 1996

Patience

sky

 

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #97: risk-reward

Using the the prompt words is not required, as long as you demonstrate the concept of risk-reward.

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And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.

Erica Jong

 

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve navigated more than enough life changes in the last few months. (And that doesn’t even begin to address a one-more-thing aggravation that WordPress is up to tomorrow…June 1st…when the powers-that-be change the editing format whether we like it or not…)

On the much more important front…

Everything…now…is about being careful. Staying safe. To reduce your risk of catching the virus. 

I get it. I really do. I struggle with health issues. I am a living breathing high risk demographic.

Vigilance is required. There is no relaxing since every action involves weighing the risk to your health. And the health of any person nearby…or at least within a 6 foot radius.

I know I am not alone.

Every action triggers a question…
Do I wear the mask in the car?
Do I wear the mask down the empty hall and one flight of stairs to get the mail?
Do I wear it into the garage where everyone parks?
If I don’t wear it everywhere, will I breathe in a virus particle and not know it?
Have I already done it and will it make me sick?
Now what…?

And that isn’t even the complete list of questions that ricochet in my mind when I am out in public. When encountering other grocery shoppers in the one way aisles…what is wrong with these people who aren’t wearing masks? Do they really not care about the risk to themselves…or anybody nearby?

Trying to make an informed decision about even the simplest activity becomes increasingly exhausting. Nobody in charge seems to really know what is going on. Critical thinking can grind to a halt at a moment’s notice.

I used to be a risk taker. To a point. At least I thought so. I climbed trees. Crawled across a roof. Jumped my bike over curbs. I hitchhiked. Smoked cigarettes until my late twenties. If you think about it, every action you take involves a risk of some kind. Perhaps we just adapt.

But this is different. This pandemic. I am older and supposedly wiser. They say you get more afraid of risk as you age. Whoever “they” are don’t realize that many of “us” are much younger in our heads. So there is still a bit of a risk taker inside me shouting I don’t like it ONE BIT that I can’t jump (well more like walk carefully) on a plane to go see my kids and grandson…or share a table with a group of friends at lunch…or walk on the beach.

The clock is ticking. I’m wearing a mask, keeping my distance and not getting any younger. I don’t have much more patience to be patient.

The rewards are far too precious.

Bits and Pieces of the Past

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #95: bits and pieces

SixWordSaturday

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ticket stubs

 

I saved these ticket stubs…scraps of paper…bits and pieces from my past. I found them tucked in a drawer, old jewelry boxes and a business card case. Ancient rubber bands barely held some together. I smiled as I arranged them for this photo.

Allow me to share a few ramblings…

I remember…seeing Whoopi – my comedy idol – and waiting in the theater’s back parking lot afterwards hoping to see her.

There was the night we saw Bruce Hornsby and his heartfelt tribute to Jerry Garcia who had died a few weeks earlier.

A concert I never thought I’d attend had been #1 on my bucket list for years: Barbra Streisand. Tied for #1: Carole King. And there was Bonnie – could never get enough of her. And Bruuuuce…you know who I mean. Amazing.

When we took the kids to see the one-of-a-kind Harlem Globetrotters – back in the days of the basketball and Chicago Bulls craziness that consumed our family.

When You’re A Jet….a local professional theater did this fabled Broadway musical justice beyond our expectations. Again, a favorite.

And…Writers! Anna. Elizabeth. Joyce. Sonia. Atul. Inspiring and captivating…they welcomed us all into their world for an hour that went by much too fast.

I shared most of these events with family and friends. In theaters and concert halls both large and small. In New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Washington, DC. Singing, laughing and can’t-help-but-get-out-of-my-seat dancing…ain’t too proud sweet darlin….

I attended a few of the writer’s talks alone and will admit there was no singing and dancing, but laughing…yes.

Unique memories of a time gone by.

As far as I know, all of these once packed venues are closed for the foreseeable future. I hope that someday we all have another chance to collect more bits and pieces like these.

 
This song has been going through my head ever since seeing V.J.’s prompt. So in the spirit of live concerts please enjoy…

 

Sprinkled

Double inspiration this week…

Lens-Artists Challenge #95: All Wet

I hope you’ve enjoyed my departure from the everyday challenges of our COVID-19 world, and that you too have some archived wet images to share.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #95: What a Child Knows

This week, let’s tune into the wisdom of children, or look inside to reconnect with our inner child and innate wisdom.

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If you own a home…with a yard…you often end up with a lawn that gets a bit finicky every now and then, especially in the summer.

In other words it gets crunchy in places.

Back in the days of such situations…when rain became elusive, we dragged out the green 25 foot garden hose and attached our sturdy “oscillating” lawn sprinkler. It needed to be positioned just right – in order to direct the much needed drink of water to the thirsty spots on our lawn. This took patience.

You also had to calculate exactly when to dash out of the way to re-position the sprinkler when necessary.

No sense in soaking yourself, the driveway or creating a river into the street.

Just the grass needed to get…All Wet…

With special attention paid to the Brown Spots.

sprinkler

 

Children meet up with a lawn sprinkler…and it’s a whole different story.

Never mind the grass. Or crunchiness. Who cares about brown spots? They sure don’t.

Water shooting high into the air out of a rotating metal bar with holes in it…is not about soaking the grass. Not at all.

It is really just a mechanism designed to get them all wet and cooled off in the hot summer sun.

Including a variety of delightful shenanigans…

Enjoying every sunlit moment.

They know.

backyard001

Summer times

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #93: remember

Remembering past times, especially joys, is a good way to ease tension. This week, I invite you to remember and share.

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I remember…

…when spring signaled it was time to start planning our family vacation. One week away for just my husband and me…then for 3 of us…then 4.

One thing I knew when I became a parent…we would make sure to set aside a family-only “getaway” every year. A time of just plain fun and connection. None of the usual distractions. Or “things to do.”

It did not have to be far or fancy. And it wasn’t…

For 20 years we packed up the car and drove 70 miles to Lake Winnipesaukee in NH. We stayed at a conference center that also catered to families. Where I had worked for two glorious summers as a teenager.

What do I remember about that one family week every summer?…

The days slowed down and opened up with time for everything and anything. I didn’t have to cook. Or clean. Or wash dishes. We all ate from a basic all-you-can-eat buffet at the dining hall.

We didn’t have to go anywhere.

There were no televisions. No phones except a payphone (remember those?).

What we had was a beautiful lake. Canoes. Kayaks. Sand. Baseball field. An “old-time” ice cream store selling locally made ice cream scooped into crunchy cones.

gpc 95 T

Acres of woods surrounded us…to hike and collect “natures” – as my kids would call the pine cones, acorns, leaves and assorted scraps of treasures they found. Filling a sand pail…

Then sorted and counted and carefully lined up…for display on the deck railing of our building.

gpc 92 T copy

There was, of course, the small beach where we plunked down our sand chairs, towels, plastic pails and shovels. Dug holes to China and constructed sand castles with moats. Read a paperback book or two. Splashed, jumped and played catch in the water.

One of my favorite activities for evenings or rainy days…playing lots of cards…

gpc 95 all
Dad barely makes it down a flight of stairs before the self timer takes the shot (1995)

Was life simpler then? I don’t know.

All I do know for sure…

…it was joy...pure and simple.

gpc 97 T&K copy

That’s what I remember.

Waiting

Lens-Artists Challenge #91: Simplicity

Show us what simplicity means to you. 

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #91: transported

In the midst of chaos, what transports you to simpler times?

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I was struck by the synchronicity of my two favorite blog challenges this week. Both numbering 91. It seemed quite natural to combine them together.

To be honest, the current – as V.J. so aptly describes it – chaos has made me want to crawl into a corner and wait for “this” to be over. However, that only momentarily happens in my imagination – and as tempting as it sounds, I realize it is not a tenable solution.

Being trapped. Isolated. Cut off from what I love to do and who I love to be with will never be a “new normal” no matter how long “this” lasts. I know the confusing uneasiness hovering everywhere isn’t unique to me. So there is solace in knowing…as is written with colored chalk on town sidewalks and on “Closed for Now” signs taped to store windows…We’re All In This Together.

Yes, we’re all in this together…at least six feet apart.

It’s far from simple or easy to understand. Too much change too fast. Too much horror for too many around the world.

So I try to remember nature’s simple pleasures.

My favorite spots…unchanged by the invisible invader lurking in all of our lives.

Where I am transported to “before.”

Whether it be the familiar soothing sound of the surf.

simple beach

Or a calm quiet place to rest.

simple bench

It’s worth holding on to the simple things.

rising bud

As we wait…each in our own way…

Together.

Who would have imagined…

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #89: Imaginary

The word this week is imaginary. Respond in which ever way the muse moves you. Looking forward to your responses.

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IMG_1694
March 27, 2020

My life is surreal enough as it is right now. Fear is everywhere. The enemy…invisible.

Not just in my own little universe. Throughout the world…women, men and children are dipping their collective toes into unfamiliar murky waters. Trying to figure out this new “normal” as Stay Safe replaces Have Fun or Have a Nice Day.

Breaking News assaults us nightly. No escaping it if you want to stay informed.

This morning I went out to get gas for my car. Not that I am going too far, but a full tank of gas is one thing I can actually do. Alone.

Imagine my surprise when I glanced at the prices. WTH? I haven’t seen gas selling below $2/gallon in…forever it seems.

Although these days a month ago feels like forever.

Never in my wildest dreams (which aren’t all that wild, but you get my drift) would I have ever imagined panic buying of toilet paper. This morning I asked a neighbor if she needed anything at the store (yes, I had to run in and out for salad and bananas).

She thought a moment and then…”macaroni…and toilet paper?”

As if the second request would be a total miracle.

It turns out miracles do happen. Limit of one package per customer. My neighbor is rejoicing. I do what I can.

Now I have a full tank of cheap gas. In case I want to drive around the block. The governor just closed all state beaches, so I can’t drive to one of my favorite spots. Well, I could drive there, but I’m not allowed to walk the beach.

Apparently people were recently congregating too close together on the sand. Ruining it for those of us who would find some momentary peace and comfort walking six feet apart in the fresh air.

Imagine what would happen if I just went down there anyway.

Would I get arrested? I’ve never been arrested.

Imagine the report: Senior Citizen arrested for walking on the beach. Even though she was minding her own business and was six feet away from the nearest human.

Maybe worth it?

Nah…I think I’ll pass.

reflection 1
Hampton Beach, NH

These days my imagination continues to expand in epic proportions. Taking on a life of its own. Sometimes that’s not helpful…when it wakes me up at 3am.

This won’t last forever, I keep telling myself.

And then a sweet reminder…

How young children can cope in a world they don’t understand…

My daughter and my 3 ½ year old grandson took a walk yesterday. They live in Washington, DC. Their neighborhood…complete with sidewalks. Lined with trees.

She texted a photo and the story behind it…which she often does – and for which I am most grateful…

…On their walk my grandson carried a stick…

“a special sprayer he was using to spray the germs away….”

He also announced:

Mama, I will keep you safe from the germs. If you get covered in germs I will spray them all off of you. Then the germs will be all gone and we can go to parks, fields, schools, and go visit Grandma and Grampa.

IMG_5447
Imagine that. ❤️

 

Empty shelves

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #88: Domino Effect

The dominos are falling. Where is this all leading? What happens when the dust settles? Thoughts? Examples? Interpretations?

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First it was hand sanitizer and wipes. Then toilet paper. Next…paper towels. Then Kleenex. One after another. Disappearing from store shelves. Worried moms…dads…kids…everyone actually…buying what they can…just in case. The unknown is a scary place.

The fear is palpable. The carts full. We are all in uncharted territory. I must believe this will pass…in time. We will someday look back and learn.

Yesterday was likely my last visit to the grocery store for the foreseeable future.

This is what happened:

empty aisle


Do you remember when the Berlin Wall fell?

I was leaning back against the shelves on one side of the paper products aisle. Finishing up taking a few pictures with my phone.

A man – probably in his 50s – had stopped his shopping cart in front of me to talk. His voice was tinged with a faint accent. He wore a camouflage patterned sweatshirt and jeans. Short clipped dark hair. Slightly balding. Medium height. Stocky.

I was trying to document the (almost) entire aisle of empty shelves. Which are usually crammed with assorted packages of toilet paper, facial tissues and paper towels.

Shelves now empty as panicked customers buy out the inventory day after day – sometimes within an hour of being even partially restocked. The virus is coming.

Shoppers quite frequently start random conversations with me in the grocery store. More often than not.

But this seemed more off the beaten track than usual – immediately capturing my attention as I answered…

Um…yes, I do.

Well this reminds me of it.

It does?

It was like this in East Germany.

You mean people buying up supplies when it happened?

No, this is how it always was in East Germany then. Empty shelves. I saw it. That’s communism.

Did you live in East Germany?

No, but I was there when the wall came down.

Wow.

The two of us paused and looked over at the empty shelves. We were alone in the aisle.

Is it upsetting for you to see this? I asked.

No…but what’s with all the panic about buying toilet paper?

I think people are worried about being quarantined. A friend of a friend of mine bought 120 rolls. For just herself.

That’s BS. All you need is enough for 14 days. But…he glanced at the empty shelves again…what if you ran out…

Well, there’s always napkins. I pointed to the few remaining packages of dinner napkins.

He nods. True.

There’s also no chicken left, I added. Shifting to perhaps a more important priority when stocking up for survival while stuck at home. If, of course, you are fortunate enough to have a home. And enough money to buy food…never mind extra food.

He nodded…No hamburger either! Ridiculous.

Shaking his head, he announced…Well…ya know…I really like guns. And people don’t like that I keep so many extra boxes of ammo stocked in my house. But I don’t care what they think.

Ahh…well we all do what we gotta do I guess.

Yes we do.

He began pushing his cart away to finish shopping.

Have a good day!

You too!

Hand sanitizer. Toilet paper. Paper towels. Tissues. Guns. Ammunition. We all are trying to prepare for an unseen enemy in our own ways.

The Berlin Wall…East Germany…who knew.

no chicken
No Chicken

Stay safe everyone.